There is a small nature reserve at Saint-Maurice-de-Tavernole dedicated to wild orchids, about half an hour away from us.
We have already visited this special site in May of 2016 and I made my first tentative identifications.
This time we visited on April 4 to see if we could see any early orchids. This was a new one for us and I think it is Orphrys passionis or Passion orchid. The name, perhaps, is derived from a flowering near Easter time.
These look very similar but have a yellow border which may be, Orphys araneola, the Little Spider Orchid or Orphrys aranifera, the Spider Orchid.
Despite a cold wind it was well worth the visit.
It took us to 4 May for our second visit and by then the Pyramid orchids were out in force. You should really visit every 15 days to properly appreciate the progression of the orchids but spring is such a busy time in the garden and with the bees that we have missed our chance this year.
I also missed my chance to see a Eucera bee on a purple orchid, this was Kourosh’s capture. Not a very good specimen for the orchid but that’s bees for you.
This purple orchid is in better shape.
I think this is the Orphrys scolopax with its little green point at the end of the flower. But I cannot quite see the resemblance to a woodcock’s eye.
On the other hand, if you squint and use your imagination, you may be able to see where the fly orchid, Orphrys insectifera gets its name.
These short visits really drive home the point that it is all about environment.
This Scarce Swallowtail butterfly, Iphiclides podalirius, was flying around and I was able to capture it, even if time was pressing to catch lunch before the restaurants closed. Yet it is a threatened species in many European countries.
Likewise, the Adonis blue butterfly, polyommatus bellargus, was feeding on the bird’s foot trefoil. This is a butterfly on the decline in the U.K. due to habitat loss.
This strip of land is protected yet hanging on against the encroaching agriculture and loss of habitat.
This is what you see from the path as far as the eye can see.
So is it a choice between the vines, a bottle of wine or a glass of cognac?
Or is it a narrow meadow full of orchids and wild flowers?